Bike touring tunes: Socalled

Earbuds and a good playlist helped pass the evenings and drown out ‘other people’s children’ at the campground while I biked through the Eastern Townships.  Earbuds: don’t leave home without them.

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Now, I am a long-time Chilly Gonzales fan, so when he tweeted to check out his pal, Socalled, I followed the links and instantly found a pile of new music to add to my playlist.  If I’m lucky, I can find one or two songs a month that really hit that sweet spot between creative, lyrical and quirky.  So, it’s rare that I download an entire album.  Or two.  I was hooked.

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While waiting for his new album to be released in August, I rented his Socalled Music documentary and was really stunned at the quality of his music and baffled that he was rather unknown locally.  Although, a search of Youtube and his tour schedule seems to indicate he’s been popular for a long time outside of Canada.  Of course.  You can’t be popular in Canada unless you leave.

I fell hard for the hyper localism of Montreal in his lyrics, the mix of traditional folk melodies with rap, funk and a little bit from columns A-Z.  His bandmates, each world class on their own, make for one ultra-talented ensemble.

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His music traveled with me as I biked.  Along quiet stretches of the Route Verte “You are never alone” and pushing the darn Brompton up a rocky, unpaved road “Work with what you got”.  It was my trip’s soundtrack.

I ended up making last minute plans to return to Montreal to see his “back to school” concert and was surprised how many songs opening acts play these days.  Verdict: too many.  The audience was made up of some pretty drunk McGill students, quiet hipsters, me and someone’s parents.   I was glad to not be the oldest person there.  Mid-thirties represent!

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The band put on a great show – perhaps a bit disappointing that it wasn’t a sell-out crowd. It reminded me of how Chilly’s Ottawa show had not sold-out.  I mean, PEOPLE.  C’MON.  Oh well…  their loss is my gain.

I can’t recommend Socalled enough.   Get on this Canada.   And NO EXCUSES, Ottawa – he’ll be here on September 12.

Thanks for keeping my pedals turning.

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